von ihrem jetzigen Besitzer den von ihm besiegten Indianern abgenommen worden waren (function "den")

Thehermitheus

New Member
Mandarin Chinese
Hello, I was trying to get a grip on the all so very versatile word "werden" when I came across this particular sentence on the Web, and I simply cannot figure out how it should be properly translated:

"Da diese Skalpe nicht auf den Köpfen von Bleichgesichtern gesessen hatten, so war zu vermuten, dass sie von ihrem jetzigen Besitzer den von ihm besiegten Indianern abgenommen worden waren."

From my understanding, the sentence can be translated thus:

Since these scalps had not been on the heads of pale-facers, thus was to assume, that they (the scalps) had been removed--by their current owner--from... whom?

That's where I got stuck.

I looked into the source of the sentence in German above, and realized that it was from a novel called Winnetou II. Then, I helped myself to the English translation of the book online thereafter, but what I came by was not very helpful:

"It was to be assumed that these scalps had been separated from their previous wearers by the present owner himself."

I know now that "ihrem jetzigen Besitzer" (the current owner of the scalps) is a white man called "Old Death," but this does not make sense in that--judging from the first clause of the sentence ("da diese Skalpe nicht auf den Köpfen von Bleichgesichtern gesessen hatten")--the scalps supposedly were skinned from white people (Bleichgesichter). If that's the case, why would a white man skin other white folks in a Western? Of course, it could be just precisely how the plot is set, but I honestly doubt it.

What's even worse, this contradiction further complicates the part of the original sentence which I do not understand: "den von ihm besiegten Indianern."

For what it's worth, I think the "den" could either be
a.) in Akkusativ and modifies "Besitzer" (the owner of the scalp, Singular)
b.) in Dativ and refers to "sie," namely "diese Skalpe" (the scalps, Plural)
c.) none of the above

Even if one of the resolutions above proves to be true, I still do not see how I can translate "den von ihm besiegten Indianern."

Whose scalps were they originally exactly: white people's, or Indians'? Is "besiegten" here a participle? How should I understand the "von ihm" in the phrase?

This problem has bugged me for hours on end, and I can't seem to go to bed in good conscience having left it unresolved. I seem to be losing weight, too.
Bitte helfen Sie mir!

My apologies if I used any grammatical terms improperly; I'm not very good at memorizing those things. You are very welcome to correct me on that as well. I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you for taking the time.
 
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  • Demiurg

    Senior Member
    German
    That's a typical construction in German; "den" belongs to "Indianern":

    ... den (von ihm besiegten) Indianern abgenommen worden waren

    ... had been taken from the Indians (defeated by him)
     

    Thehermitheus

    New Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    So from what I can gather, den Indianern is simply die Indianer (Pl.) in Dativ, since the trennbare Verb "abnehmen" dictates that the direct object taken (sie, die Skalpe) should be in Akkusativ, and that the indirect object--die Indianer--be in Dativ. Is this correct?

    I can follow your translation of von ihm besiegten into defeated by him. I do wonder, however, why the syntax is thus, because if I were to rearrange the words, I would definitely order them thus:

    ...den Indianern, die besiegten von ihm sind...
    or ...den Indianern besiegten von ihm...

    Is this understanding also correct, or is my English training tricking me again?

    <...>

    Vielen Dank für die schnelle Rückantwort!
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    So from what I can gather, den Indianern is simply die Indianer (Pl.) in Dativ, since the trennbare Verb "abnehmen" dictates that the direct object taken (sie, die Skalpe) should be in Akkusativ, and that the indirect object--die Indianer--be in Dativ. Is this correct?
    Correct.
    I can follow your translation of von ihm besiegten into defeated by him. I do wonder, however, why the syntax is thus, because if I were to rearrange the words, I would definitely order them thus:

    ...den Indianern, die besiegten von ihm sind...
    or ...den Indianern besiegten von ihm...

    Is this understanding also correct, or is my English training tricking me again?
    In modern German, attributes are always in front of the head noun and are always inflected. In English attributive participle phrases are placed after the head noun. This is not so in modern German. The phrase von ihm besiegt (dative plural: von ihm besiegten) takes the position of a simple adjective (compare e.g. die großen Indianer, dative: den großen Indianern).

    This might also interest you.
     

    Thehermitheus

    New Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Ah, exactly what I thought to be. May I ask if that rule applies to spoken German as well? For instance, would you say, "Ich trinke das stehende am Tisch Glas Wasser," or would you rather order the words differently?

    I'll look at the link provided now. Danke schön!
     
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    Thehermitheus

    New Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Na ja, dann verstehe ich das jetzt. Danke!

    One last thing, would sentences like "Ich trinke das auf dem Tisch stehende Glas Wasser" sound a bit bizarre to a native speaker's ears when it is placed in an everyday, spoken conversation? In other words, is there a more simple way of saying the same thing?
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Na ja, dann verstehe ich das jetzt. Danke!

    One last thing, would sentences like "Ich trinke das auf dem Tisch stehende Glas Wasser" sound a bit bizarre to a native speaker's ears when it is placed in an everyday, spoken conversation? In other words, is there a more simple way of saying the same thing?
    It sounds perfectly natural.
     

    Demiurg

    Senior Member
    German
    In other words, is there a more simple way of saying the same thing?
    Not more simple but probably more common in colloquial language are relative clauses:

    Ich trinke das Glas Wasser, das auf dem Tisch steht.

    or in this special case:

    Ich trinke das Glas Wasser auf dem Tisch.
     

    Glockenblume

    Senior Member
    Deutsch (Hochdeutsch und "Frängisch")
    One last thing, would sentences like "Ich trinke das auf dem Tisch stehende Glas Wasser" sound a bit bizarre to a native speaker's ears when it is placed in an everyday, spoken conversation? In other words, is there a more simple way of saying the same thing?
    It's the kind of style that is very often used in administration language (sometimes also in scientific langage). But it doesn't sound too nice in a litterature texte.
     

    Thehermitheus

    New Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Das ist alles ganz klar. Sie haben mir sehr weitergeholfen. Vielen Dank nochmal für die Rückantwort.

    Ich wünsche Ihnen einen tollen Tag.
     
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    Thehermitheus

    New Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    It's the kind of style that is very often used in administration language (sometimes also in scientific langage). But it doesn't sound too nice in a litterature texte.
    That's interesting. If that's the case, how would you construct the sentence with the same meaning in a literary context?
     

    Glockenblume

    Senior Member
    Deutsch (Hochdeutsch und "Frängisch")
    That's interesting. If that's the case, how would you construct the sentence with the same meaning in a literary context?
    Like Demiurg did in #10:

    "Not more simple but probably more common in colloquial language are relative clauses:

    Ich trinke das Glas Wasser, das auf dem Tisch steht.

    or in this special case:

    Ich trinke das Glas Wasser auf dem Tisch."
     

    Frieder

    Senior Member
    [tongue in cheek]
    You cannot drink from a glass that still resides on a table,
    so it should be
    "Ich trinke aus dem Glas, das auf dem Tisch gestanden hat"
    [/tongue in cheek] ;)
     
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    Thehermitheus

    New Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Like Demiurg did in #10:

    "Not more simple but probably more common in colloquial language are relative clauses:

    Ich trinke das Glas Wasser, das auf dem Tisch steht.

    or in this special case:

    Ich trinke das Glas Wasser auf dem Tisch."
    Es leuchtet mir ein. Danke!

    [tongue in cheek]
    You cannot drink from a glass that still resides on a table,
    so it should be
    "Ich trinke aus dem Glas, das auf dem Tisch gestanden hat"
    [/tongue in cheek] ;)
    Lol. You almost had me for a second.

    This in effect raises other related questions though. Hopefully, I am not digressing.

    I take it that the "stehend" as in "das auf dem Tisch stehende Glas Wasser" is a present participle, i.e. im Partizip Präsens, so does it necessitate a continuous state of being, as you implied in your post, in which the modified object must continue to exist in the way described? Thus making this joke actually legitimate--grammatically, that is.

    Another issue with this discussion is that am I really supposed to say "Ich trinke aus dem Glas Wasser" instead of "Ich trinke das Glas Wasser," or are we just trying to split hairs now?

    Ich freue mich darauf, Ihre Meinung zu hören.
     

    Glockenblume

    Senior Member
    Deutsch (Hochdeutsch und "Frängisch")
    Another issue with this discussion is that am I really supposed to say "Ich trinke aus dem Glas Wasser" instead of "Ich trinke das Glas Wasser," or are we just trying to split hairs now?
    Concerning the topic that Frieder critizises in #15 ("auf dem Tisch"), I'm not sure who is right - because I'm sometimes victim of French interferences.
    But as for the question of "Ich trinke das Glas Wasser", I would be very, very surprised if this wasn't right.
    In my opinion, "Ich trinke das Glas Wasser" is correct.
     

    Peek

    Senior Member
    German/Deutsch
    ... Another issue with this discussion is that am I really supposed to say "Ich trinke aus dem Glas Wasser" instead of "Ich trinke das Glas Wasser," or are we just trying to split hairs now? ...
    I seem to know what you've inteded to say.
    Nobody is able to "drink the glass", but you can use the glass in order to drink out of it.
    Ich trinke nicht "das Glas" an sich, sprich: "das Behältnis Glas", sondern ich trinke tatsächlich nur das Wasser "aus dem Glas".
    I consider that as hair-splitting or at least as a "game of sentential logic". :)
     

    Thehermitheus

    New Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Concerning the topic that Frieder critizises in #15 ("auf dem Tisch"), I'm not sure who is right - because I'm sometimes victim of French interferences.
    But as for the question of "Ich trinke das Glas Wasser", I would be very, very surprised if this wasn't right.
    In my opinion, "Ich trinke das Glas Wasser" is correct.
    Ich glaube, dass Frieder so etwas gesagt hat, um am meisten lustig zu sein.
    Dafür interessiere ich mich doch auch.

    I seem to know what you've inteded to say.
    Nobody is able to "drink the glass", but you can use the glass in order to drink out of it.
    Ich trinke nicht "das Glas" an sich, sprich: "das Behältnis Glas", sondern ich trinke tatsächlich nur das Wasser "aus dem Glas".
    I consider that as hair-splitting or at least as a "game of sentential logic". :)
    Ha ha. Genau!
     
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